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LanceLetter - Bye LG Phone; WWDC21; Shatner AI; Diamond Power

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LanceLetter

April 6 · Issue #224 · View online

Stuff that matters.


Written over spring break

Bye
Bye
Farewell, LG Phone
LG’s smartphone business is calling it quits. I’m not sure many will miss it. The company’s global smartphone market share hovered under 1% (it’s often lumped in with “other”) and, lately, it was generating little excitement with its quite-good (or head-scratching) flagship devices.
Even so, I’ll miss it: The Android company that did things differently. How many companies shipped big-screen phones with a second-full-sized screen in the case? I know, LG’s design and technology choices made clear that it didn’t always understand the smartphone market. Certainly not like it did the feature phone one.
Those of a certain generation have fond memories of the early 2000’s LG feature and flip phones. Sadly, like so many others, LG was slow to move in the face of touch-screen devices like the iPhone and ended up forever playing catchup to Apple and, more importantly, Samsung.
One interesting side note is that LG is, like Samsung, a South Korean company. In fact, it’s the other major company in that tiny country and builds far more than just phones. If you ever travel there, you’ll quickly notice the ubiquity of the two brands.
In short, LG as a company will be fine. RIP LG smartphone.
WWDC Leads the Way Back online
I can’t tell you how happy I am that the tech industry is not rushing back into in-person events. Apple announced last week that this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference would again be online only.
Will that be the case in 2022? I don’t know. My more immediate concern is about late summer tech events and CES 2022. Sure, the all-digital CES 2021 was underwhelming but I think that’s more a product of how it was organized and executed and not that it was online only.
To be fair, an event like WWDC–which is focused on the development efforts of one company and its partners–is hard to compare to a sprawling, across-multiple-categories-and-thousands-of-companies-event like CES. Still, I have little interest in returning to a giant human Petrie dish in the middle of flu season (I have proposed them moving CES to the summer)
Could CES create a hybrid event? A much smaller and more exclusive trade show and then a host online presentations and talks? Would that work? If they do it, I’m willing to participate.
Shatner is our Jor-El
I was always fascinated by the Superman movie scenes in which the hero builds his Fortress of Solitude and installs an AI version of his dad, Jor El. The cool thing about AI-Jor-El was that his programming gave him the ability to interact in a natural way with Superman. The Kryptonian could ask AI-Jor-El anything and get a sentient answer.
We now have lots of AI that’s capable of answering many of our day-to-day questions, but they still fall short of the natural back and forth we desire. StoryFile is attempting to build something more akin to the Jor-El interaction and it’s starting with what may be the perfect candidate: William Shatner. The actor and author, who just turned 90, is working with the company to tune himself into an interactive AI for future generations.
Decades from now, when Shatner is gone (or a robot with Shatner’s human brain still exists), you’ll be able to punch up AI Shatner on your computer and have a heart-to-heart about the topic of your choice (I’m guessing it’ll be Star Trek).
He’s Jor-El.
Diamond Batteries
Someone’s figured out a way to combine nano diamonds with–wait for it–nuclear waste to produce insanely-long-lasting batteries. I mean, one could last thousands of years. The problem is the expense and, for now, their ability to produce only tiny bits of power. That means you need big diamond batteries to power, say, an iPhone. And it would probably add thousands of dollars to the price tag.
Despite all this, there’s a hint of first-generation dilithium crystals in all this. Perhaps this will become commercially viable in time for them to power space missions to distant galaxies.
Sorry for the late delivery
Stay safe
See you soon
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